Rylan Vann won’t be the first player from Cary High School to play at N.C. State. He won’t even be the first Vann to play under Dave Doeren. That honor goes to his older brother, Davin.
However, there is one first Rylan can brag about. He’s the first verbal commit to Doeren in the class of 2022, the first pledge to the Wolfpack after a recruitment process completed amid COVID-19 restrictions.
During his recruitment, Vann, a center who just completed his junior season for the Imps, couldn’t take any official visits or host coaches for in-home visits due to the pandemic. Everything, including conversations with coaches, even the campus “tour,” was done over a computer.
One could assume that having his brother on the current roster was all the in-home recruiting the Pack would need. But it wasn’t guaranteed that the younger Vann would join his brother at N.C. State.
“It wasn’t as easy as people thought,” Rylan Vann told The News & Observer. “But at the same time, I knew it wasn’t going to be that difficult.”
Vann (6-1, 275 pounds) picked the Wolfpack over West Virginia. According to the 247Sports composite list, Vann is the No. 4 ranked center in the country and the No. 22 player in North Carolina. He’s projected to play any of the interior offensive lineman positions once he arrives on campus.
His brother Davin, a 6-2, 296-pound defensive lineman, just finished his freshman season at N.C. State. Rylan told the N&O that Davin let him make his own decision when it came to where he wanted to go to school. One pitch from Davin, though, sold Rylan on the Wolfpack. When he heard about the family atmosphere, it only made sense for him to go to N.C. State.
“Just how they are dedicated to the players,” Vann said. “They just want one family.”
Former Cary football coach Jason Wilkes, who stepped down on Tuesday, told The News & Observer that the Vanns are a tight-knit clan, so he wasn’t surprised when Rylan ultimately chose to play with his brother once again.
“I think them being there together is going to help each of them develop,” Wilkes said. “They kind of push each other. They have like a friendly sibling rivalry, you know, they’re very close, they love each other but they bring a little bit of something extra out of each other when they’re going against each other which they’ll be able to do.”
Being recruited amid COVID-19 pandemic
Even though Rylan’s recruitment process was different due to COVID-19, he did have a bit of a cheat code.
When Davin was being recruited out of Cary, Rylan went with him on a lot of his visits. He was able to see various campuses, N.C. State included, so he knew what other schools were out there.
“That kind of gave him a leg up in this process,” Wilkes said. “I feel really bad for some kids that’s completely virtual trying to make some of these decisions but you know he’s kind of seen other places and obviously really in-depth at N.C. State.”
Obviously, being able to go on campus with his brother helped, but the Wolfpack coaches still gave Rylan his own recruiting experience. That meant a lot of phone calls and text messages, topped off with plenty of computer meetings. One that stood out for him was ‘Zooming with the Pack,’ a virtual tour of the campus and facilities.
“I know that’s going to help a lot of recruits,” Rylan Vann said.
A wrestling background
So what kind of player is N.C. State getting in Rylan Vann?
Wilkes said the staff is getting an offensive lineman who doesn’t shy away from the dirty work in the trenches.
“Very physical player, he does a great job finishing blocks, you know, playing through the whistle,” Wilkes said. “He is very strong mentally and physically and he can handle a lot that’s put on him.”
Rylan Vann is also competes on the Imps’ wrestling program, a background most offensive line coaches like in that position group. Current N.C. State All-ACC tackle Ikem Ekwonu and former guard Joe Sculthorpe, who just wrapped up his college career, were both successful high school wrestlers. Davin Vann also wrestled at Cary High.
The center on the line for Cary, Rylan Vann was a natural leader and Wilkes expects him to bring those same intangibles to Raleigh when his prep career wraps up.
“It just starts with his passion every day,” Wilkes said. “It didn’t matter if we were on the practice field or in the weight room. He’s the guy that’s going to get everybody going and everybody kind of follows Rylan’s lead and he brings the same intensity every day.”